Thursday, March 27, 2014

El Chapo Guzmán's takedown: strategy or serendipity?

Fiction writers are already hard at work

Guadalajara -
When former Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán finally met The Man in the Pacific coast city of Mazatlán early on Saturday morning, Feb. 22, more than a decade after he had escaped from a Mexican high security prison in January 2001, both this country and the U.S. took quick advantage of the moment to engage in a bit of self-adulation, praising the "high level of coordination" between their respective law enforcement agencies. Now two Mexican marines who claim to have personally taken Guzmán into custody that day say it was all nothing more than a case of very good luck.

Those claims were carried today by the Mexico City newspaper Excélsior, in a story called El Chapo: dudas y revelaciones (El Chapo, doubts and revelations). Here is what it says:

At about 6:40 a.m. on Feb. 22, the marines were in a small convoy on routine patrol, driving past a condominium complex called Miramar Towers. From out of nowhere a man suddenly jumped into the street and held up his hands, imploring the soldiers to stop.

He told them that he was a resident of the building, and that moments before he had encountered a heavily armed man walking about on the fourth floor, at one point entering a condo unit. The marines said the witness appeared to be very agitated, and urged them to enter the building and ascend to the fourth floor to see for themselves.

The marines did just that, they say, and claim that outside unit 401 they encountered a guard armed to the gills who pointed a firearm at them. They ordered the man to drop his weapon, but instead he ran into the apartment. Seconds later he walked out and surrendered without incident. Immediately after El Chapo himself exited another condominium and likewise gave up, according to the marines' curious account.

Excélsior said it didn't put much stock in the story. The guard in question was a man named Carlos Manuel Hoo Ramírez, who has already given a detailed statement to prosecutors, acknowledging that he was sound asleep when a military assault team burst into his room. He denied pointing a weapon at anybody, and claimed he had been in bed for hours, not doing fourth floor patrol duty for the boss.

Just one more story in the capture of the world's once most wanted drug trafficker. Many others will no doubt follow, but the one everybody will be waiting for is El Chapo's own version of how he was caught off guard 13 years and one month after rolling out of prison in the bottom of a laundry cart.

Feb. 22 - Mexico nabs El Chapo Guzmán
Feb. 22 - Enrique finally gets the Biggest Enchilada
Feb. 23 - Guzmán's sons threaten violence, while U.S. congressman calls for immediate extradition
Feb. 25 - The Guzmán girls, home grown in Sinaloa
Mar. 3 - Mexican Church has harsh words for government over El Chapo Guzmán's capture
Mar. 9 - Mexico: Guzmán's extradition to U.S. is inevitable

Another condominium became available after the Miaramar's most famous tenant canceled his lease

© MGR 2014. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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